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• 04•09•2002 •

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24 Aug - 4 Sept 2002

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As one of its "Partnership" initiatives, the USA is to pump $53m into GM technology for African farming. CropLife and AfricaBio wet lips...

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The Initiative to Cut Hunger in Africa will spur technology sharing for small land holders, strengthen agricultural policy development, fund higher education and regional technology collaboration, and expand resources for local infrastructure in transportation, marketing and communications.

The United States will invest $90 million in 2003, including $53 million to harness science and technology for African farmers and $37 million to unleash the power of markets for smallholder agriculture.

The United States will collaborate with the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD), national and regional trade and science and technology organizations as well as global and African industry partners. Initial efforts will concentrate in Uganda, Mozambique and Mali.

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Peoples' Earth Summit Press Release

Why Africa SHOULD Reject GE Contaminated Food Aid

Embargoed: 12.00hrs 30/08/2002

WSSD, Johannesburg, South Africa

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Three international reports have been released promoting Genetically Engineered (GE) food in the lead up to WSSD. Each report is funded by parties with a vested interest for the success of GE food.

African nations have united against this biased research:

1. World Food Programme Report saying GE Food Aid should be accepted.

2. WTO - WHO Report saying GE is not harmful.

3. UN Economic Commission for Africa is pro GE farming and medicine.

Africa's Response:

  • Uganda and Tanzania have both offered Zambia GE free food. They argue that there is enough food in Africa to help Zambia. However, ineffective infrastructure hampers distribution of this food to drought-stricken areas.
  • The US is disposing of its rejected food on Africa. Africa will not allow itself to become a dumping ground. This is another form of colonisation: first through slavery, then economic colonisation and now the control of food and medicine through GE, creating total dependency through patented and terminated seed and medicines.
  • Food crops given as aid are often planted. This leads to contamination as Mexico has experienced. There must be solidarity across Africa for strict controls and decisions.

Solutions to Africa's regular droughts are not food aid from the North nor technology.
It is:

o Enhancing traditional systems of food production where farmers control their own diverse livelihood systems.

o Improving infrastructure so food can be transported from areas of surplus to areas of need within Africa as a priority

Zambia's Response:

Dr Lewanika, a scientific advisor to the Zambian government explains why Zambia rejects GE Food Aid and why other African countries should do so too:

  • Zambia has had public debates on the issue. The majority of small scale farmers said they would rather starve than use GE food. Hunger is a real issue in Zambia, however, there is still time to prepare and to provide GE free food.
  • Aid was not offered - money ($51 million) was given as a loan to the private sector to import maize from the USA. When this maize was imported Zambia was not informed that it was GE contaminated. It is important to get prior consent from a country rather than imposing GE contaminated food grain on a nation.
  • Currently, there is no regulatory system in place in Zambia to evaluate, accept or reject Genetically Modified Organisms. The debate about safety, human health and the environment still rages on. Until the issue is clear, Zambia chooses to take precautionary steps.

-- ends --

Notes to Editors: For more information contact Sangeeta Haindl on 0834 468 8523/Marise du Preez on 0825781833.

  • Dr Lewanika, Scientific adviser to the Zambian government.
  • Dr Tewolde Gebre Egziabher, Spokesperson for the African Biosafety Proposal.
  • Fred Kalibiwane, Organizer of the Farmers Convergence.
  • Million Belay, Steering Committee of the African Civil Society Group.

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Farmers' Convergence, Peoples' Global Forum, Johannesburg, August 2002

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We, the small-scale farmers meeting as a Small-Scale Farmers Convergence at the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) from 22 August to 1 September 2002:

Affirm: that farming and fishing is our life. It is our culture.

Believe: that small holder [family] farming has provided food, employment, healing, spiritual inspirations and has been a central basis for social education and skills development over generations.

Know: that the earth was created with all that is needed for people, animals and all its sustenance and continuity.

Recognize: that the smallholder farmers are a majority, constituting 70 percent of the total world's population but have largely been unheard and un-noticed.

We therefore come here to speak as a united voice and alongside other civil society actors to: governments, the United Nations and the rest of the world so that our issues and recommendations will be an integral part of the deliberations and outcomes of WSSD.

Under the Small Farmer Convergence, 300 small-scale farmers from Africa, Latin America, Canada, Europe and Asia are here to:

  • Celebrate farming and fishing as a culture - our way of life;
  • Share our knowledge, experiences and strategies on enhancing biodiversity, seed multiplication, storage and exchange among ourselves;
  • Communicate to you so that we can be part of the answer to sustainable development; and,
  • Build a solidarity that will shape our common destiny in partnership with the earth and her people.

We, therefore, state:

  • That land, water, plant and animal genetic resources and minerals have been communally owned throughout generations and, therefore, should never be transferred to private ownership for selfish and profit driven gains. We have a stewardship responsibility handed over from past generations to tend the earth and leave it for future generations;
  • That the rich knowledge, best practices and technologies developed by us farmers in providing farming, healing, worship and marketing of our farm produce should never be alienated from us because they form the core of the our existence and livelihood. Research should focus and build on this knowledge and practice and must respond to farmers needs;
  • That avoidable conflicts and wars have dodged the small-scale farmers and poor communities in Africa for far too long. Those in authority have ignored the soft voices of women and children crying and others dying. The Western countries have gladly traded arms and propaganda to fuel these conflicts. We demand a stop to the merciless killing of innocent people. Farmers cannot produce food under these conditions;
  • Small-scale farmers have evolved systems of seed exchange and multiplication for future seasons and generations. This is key to food sovereignty at family and national levels.

We say NO to genetically modified foods. We do not need genetically modified seeds. Our indigenous seeds are superior for our taste and style of farming. We small-scale farmers farm for people and not for industry!;

  • That our first priority is to feed our communities before growing for the external market. We, therefore, call for internal market access in preference to external competitors. Capacity building, extension services and improvement of infrastructure in terms of roads, communication and markets must enhance this.

Full access to the international market must be accompanied with consideration on equity, justice and the production environment;

  • That deliberate and urgent steps must be taken to develop and promote alternative renewable energy options, sustainable land-use systems and water management as a commitment to achieving sustainable development for all;
  • That poor communities, consisting mainly of labourers, landless people and small scale farmers and their families, have suffered most from HIV/AIDS. We are also concerned that common childhood diseases and other preventable diseases, such as malaria and TB, have continued to decimate our populations at an alarming rate. Health for all must be made a reality;
  • Our communal resources (land, forests, wildlife, minerals, water etc.) have been plundered by a few powerful people and private companies to the detriment of all. Further the pollution and degradation of the earth has been blamed on the poor communities, paying a blind eye to the big industries that are responsible for industrial waste and gas emissions.

Everybody must be responsible for ensuring a safe, clean and sustainable world.

  • That foreign debt has continued to cripple poor countries' economies with serious consequences on food security, health and education impacting most heavily on women and children. We therefore call for further debt cancellation and a re-dedication of these funds to services provision for poverty eradication.

As small-scale farmers we have some answers - we will show the way.

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Statement in support of the Zambian and Zimbabwean Governments' position to reject food aid contaminated by genetic engineering

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We, African Civil Society groups, participants to the World Summit on Sustainable Development, composed of more than 45 African countries, join hands with the Zambian and Zimbabwean governments and their people in rejecting GE contaminated food for our starving brothers and sisters:

  • We refuse to be used as the dumping ground for contaminated food, rejected by the Northern countries; and we are enraged by the emotional blackmail of vulnerable people in need, being used in this way.
  • The starvation period is anticipated to begin early in 2003, so that there is enough time to source uncontaminated food.
  • There is enough food in the rest of Africa (already offered by Tanzania and Uganda) to provide food for the drought areas.
  • Our responses is to strengthen solidarity and self reliance with in Africa, in the face of this next wave of colonization, through GE technologies, which aim to control our agricultural systems, through the manipulation of seed by corporations
  • We will stand together in preventing our continent from being contaminated by genetically engineered crops, as a responsibility to our future generation.


Contact detail:

Million Belay - Steering Committee of the African Civil Society Group

Tel: +27 83 296 2130

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